Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Exxon’s Russia risk, AT&T eyes DirecTV, Sony’s woes continue, Godzilla overweight

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What to watch for today

ExxonMobil reveals its Russian risk. Analysts expect the energy giant to report an 11% drop in earnings per share due to lower oil prices earlier in the quarter. Investors will want to hear whether Exxon’s holdings in Russia could be hurt by sanctions.

May Day clashes in Turkey. Workers will descend on Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest the government’s attempted ban on doing just that. The public labor day celebration was banned between 1977 and 2010 after dozens were killed by unidentified gunmen.

Details about Malaysia’s missing airplane. Following criticism about its lack of transparency, Malaysia is set to publish a report about the disappearance of flight MH370.

Mrs. Merkel goes to Washington. The German chancellor arrives for talks with president Obama, which will center on what to do about Russian aggression in Ukraine, and American spy programs in Germany.

While you were sleeping

AT&T is interested in buying DirecTV. The telecom giant has approached the satellite TV firm about a possible acquisition, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The combined company could be a counterweight to Comcast-Time Warner Cable, and offer a bundle of pay-TV and telecom services.

Sony slashed its forecast again. The consumer electronics company said operating profit for the year through March would be 26 billion yen ($255 million), down from the 80 billion it forecast in February—which was already a sharp reduction from earlier projections. Its PC, TV, and DVD businesses have been all been struggling.

An Indian train was struck by two bombs. One woman was killed and nine people were injured after twin explosions hit a passenger train inside Chennai train station. The bombing comes in the middle of India’s staggered elections, but officials said they cannot confirm whether the two events are linked.

Lloyds’ profit rose 22%. The UK’s largest mortgage lender posted a £1.8 billion ($3 billion) net profit for the first quarter, aided by a strengthening economy, cost cuts, and fewer bad loans. The bank is still 25% owned by the government, following a bailout after the 2008 financial crisis.

More happy news for the British economy. April’s manufacturing PMI was 57.3, up from 55.8 in March, according to the Markit/CIPS index, which also showed the sector is adding 10,000 jobs per month (paywall). Separately, housing prices grew 10.9% in April versus last year, the fastest rate since 2007.

China’s manufacturing sector missed the mark. The official purchasing managers’ index grew slightly to 50.4 in April but fell short of analysts’ expectations, signaling weak economic growth and a continuing slowdown.

Alibaba may reacquire Alipay. The Chinese internet giant is reportedly in talks to retake a stake in its Alipay affiliate, which acts much like PayPal and is crucial to Alibaba’s operations. The initial spinoff of Alipay provoked major protests from Alibaba investors Softbank and Yahoo.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how the biggest money at technology companies is often made by their chief finance honchos. “Coding whizzes may be the rockstars of the tech world, but accountants are often more consistent earners. This is particularly true for companies looking to go public, of which there are many at the moment. Founders of fast-growing firms typically come from a technology or marketing background, and hire dedicated finance staff only after their companies reach a certain size. This is sometimes done grudgingly, as there can be resistance to the structure and discipline imposed by finance managers on a freewheeling startup.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Cheaper housing requires a mental reset. High-rise and high-density living (paywall) will have to become commonplace to make urban housing more affordable.

Twitter’s glory days are over. The social media platform has begun an inexorable decline, and its most faithful users are the first to notice.

Facebook’s new features should scare the pants off Google. The social networking company is quickly becoming to the mobile internet what Google is to the web.

Silicon Valley has a stake in India’s elections. Many campaigners and voters are using what they learned while working in the US.

Even sustainable energy has an environmental cost. Solar plants are killing birds—some say at the rate of one every two minutes.

Surprising discoveries

Japan thinks Godzilla is overweight. Hollywood’s latest iteration of the iconic creature has been super-sized, and it looks like fat, not muscle.

Someone is leaking pro wrestling scripts. The fact that bouts are scripted isn’t surprising—but the scripts are.

Chase doesn’t like porn. It is canceling the bank accounts of adult video performers.

Using the word “congratulations” will boost your Facebook post. The company tweaked its algorithm after the birth of Mark Zuckerberg’s niece got buried in his feed.

Drug prices defy gravity. Expiring patents and the threat of generic competitors can actually boost prices in the short term.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pro wrestling scripts, and Twitter eulogies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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